Informal Movie Reviews: Only God Forgives

2011 wasn’t the strongest year for movies.

But if there was one film that wowed me, it was Nicolas Winding Refn’s  Drive. 

What could be better than a sexy badass like Ryan Gosling playing the lead character (and yes, I’m totally being biased)?! Paired with wild car chases, a sick soundtrack and epic-ly gory (sometimes a bit too gory) fight scenes, Drive was undoubtedly a commercial success.

So when I heard that Refn and Gosling were going to pair up again for Only God Forgives, I was naturally really excited for the finished product. But alas, maybe I was too excited.

I went to see the film last Friday with my friend Tara, who also attended the TIFF premiere of Drive with me. As massive fans of the Gosling-Refn pairing, we were anticipating this film since they started filming in Bangkok around last year. 

To say the least, the film was rather disappointing. I can see why it was booed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Still, it wasn’t completely unbearable. Here’s what I liked and disliked.


Ryan’s wardrobe: To be fair, I think Ryan ALWAYS looks good. He could even wear a paper bag. But his outfits in the film were very GQ. Three piece suit, badass boots and a white T-shirt paired with gray jeans? This casual and minimalist wardrobe would probably make any man look way cooler.

Cinematography: For an art film that looks to provoke people with its brutal violence (and let me tell you, it’s way worse than Drive), Refn manages to shoot some very beautiful scenes. Slightly tinted in red, the film is rather dark and mostly takes place during the night. But despite the gory scenes and Vithaya Pansringarm’s portrayal of a crazy, machete carrying former police officer, I do have to say some of the filmography here was really excellent.

Score: Do I really have to say anything about this? My heart pumped at moments when the music started to change between scenes. Cliff Martinez is a genius. Go figure, he also scored the soundtrack for Drive. 


Script: What script? There was barely any dialogue. But from what I heard, everything was hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed Kristin Scott Thomas’ portrayal of Julian’s (Gosling) mother Crystal. She was definitely bitchy enough…but some of the things she said were ABSOLUTELY ridiculous.

Ex 1:

Julian: It’s a little more complicated than that, mother.

Crystal: Meaning what, exactly?

Julian: Billy raped and killed a sixteen year old girl.

Crystal: I’m sure he had his reasons.  

Ex 2:

Crystal: And what with Billy being the older brother and having a bigger cock… Julian’s was never small, but Billy’s was… oh, it was enormous!

Apparently some of this was improvised, but the fact that this was all included just makes me laugh in disbelief.

Violence: I’m pretty sure Refn’s goal here was to provoke audiences with extreme violence and I guess he succeeded because that’s exactly what he did. I’m not sure if the gore really served a purpose. But as a viewer, I found a lot of it quite unbearable and disgusting. It was a lot darker and I found it didn’t make a lot of sense at many parts.

Pacing: Too slow, not enough talking and Gosling was just sitting around most of the time.

I feel like Ryan is beginning to get typecast into a mysterious, brooding type that barely speaks and it’s beginning to make me worry.

Ryan is such a capable actor and he can transform into anything. But then again, he is a pretty hot commodity in Hollywood at the moment so I’m sure he’s pretty selective for roles he’s offered. He seems to be really good friends with Refn so I can see why he decided to collaborate with him again. And knowing that he’s taking a hand in directing with How to Catch a Monster, maybe I can let this bad movie slide.

I’ll always love you, Ryan!


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